My latest post for Catholic Mom is entitled “Living a Holy Sexuality Through the Theology of the Body.”
Marriage is a holy vocation that leads to the creation of life and family, an essential way of spreading the Catholic faith and of attaining holiness.
Taking the four components of God’s love for us (free, total, faithful, fruitful) and comparing them to marital love, we can discover how we can live the sacrament of matrimony as a vocation in the most free, total, faithful and fruitful way, the ultimate expression of not only God’s love for us, but in our love for our spouses. We can discover how we can best express and preserve our Marital Unity.
Free: We need to be able to give our love freely to our spouse. If we ask for conditions, like… I’ll love you IF, then that’s not love. If we force our spouse to do something, that’s not love. If we cannot control our passions, if we cannot say no to our sexual urges, then we are not free. If we cannot say no, our yes means nothing.
Total: The love for our spouse must be total. We can’t say, “Well, I’ll give you everything, honey, except for my arm or except for my leg.” Everything means everything. Total means total.
In the CCCC, 1643, says: “Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all of the elements of the person enter – appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance, which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.” Sex is holy, but the world doesn’t see it that way.
Faithful: We must be faithful to our spouse. Obviously, we must only have sexual intercourse with our spouse and no other. However, adultery is not the only way we can be unfaithful to our spouse. Indulging in fantasies, pornography of any kind and flirting all offend the sixth commandment. If we want to be truly faithful to our spouse, we must be faithful in word, action, and thought.
Fruitful: We must allow relations with our spouse to be fruitful – to be open to children – each and every time we have sex, whether or not we are planning a child. That doesn’t mean we will conceive a child with every marital embrace. It also doesn’t mean that we must try to get pregnant each and every time we have relations. It just means that we need to be open. Natural Family Planning allows a couple to avoid pregnancy and still be open to the possibility of pregnancy.
Artificial contraception, in fact, destroys all four of the essential components (Free, total, faithful, fruitful). Birth control violates not only God’s plan (because it does not image God’s fruitfulness) but it also destroys a couple’s marital unity, encourages an “I can’t say no” mentality to sex. When a device, medication is used or an operation has taken place to purposefully remove fertility permanently, a couple cannot give themselves totally, no matter how much they love each other. (This does not include couples who have regretted and repented, nor does this include couples who have lost their fertility through no fault of their own).
Contraception also does not allow a couple to totally give of themselves to each other. You can’t say, “I give all of myself to my spouse – except my fertility.” That means you’re not giving your total self. Contraception destroys marital unity by separating the couple physically. Natural Family Planning preserves it.
Living a holy sexuality through the Theology of the Body is not always easy. But I can say from experience, it is most definitely worth it.
For more information on Natural Family Planning:
Copyright 2016 Ellen Gable Hrkach